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UNDER THE WATER
Hum said, Mrs. Wriggle, moth roind."'
See page 40.
... '-. ', -' ,
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Se :ax 40.
Copyright. Entered at Stationers' Hall
UNDER THE WATER
ia torp for Cilbren
AUTHOR OF "BUZ"
DRAWINGS BY E. A. LEMANN
J. W. ARROWSMITH, II QUAY STREET
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL & Co., 4 STATIONERS' HALL COURT
I. galling in-w-tb governor Wriggle .
II. Ube passionate larva, anb the ,torp of the Ittller's
bumnb .. .
I. B Dinner anb a 2)uchtin 36
IV. Down Stream, anD tbe Stor2 of the Aterrp rig 49
v. Up Stream, anr tbe Storp of tbe Sorrowful Loacb 65
VI. Gbe Storp of tbe Sorrowtul loacb continuee) 7
VII. Ube Storp of the Sorrowful XLoacb (conclubeb) o3
VIII. Ube Wieeping Wiliillow, the Conceite Cabise, aitn tbe
Ireposterous ieriwiltile 23
IX. Ibonie 2gatin .. 141
.. ,, _._._. ,. ., -. :
UNDER THE WATER.
falling in-witb Governor Wriggle.
'N E beautiful summer day, Constance and
4" i' 1 Randolph were so busy gathering flowers, that
1 5- t 3 they forgot to notice how far they had strayed
S into the forest which nearly surrounded their
home, and were a long way from the house
just at the time when they should have been
putting on their pinafores for dinner.
They hadn't left off pinafores yet; Constance-though
2 UNDER THE WATER.
" quite big," as she often said-being only ten, and her
brother nearly two years younger.
"I'm getting hungry," said Randolph, as he arranged
the flowers, which, in his hot little hands, were already
drooping and -beginning to get limp: "isn't it time to go
"Yes, directly," said Constance; "but, oh! do look at
that lovely butterfly I must catch it !"
And away they both ran, further and further into the
The butterfly seemed quite to enter into the fun, and
danced along up and down in front of the children; alighting
now and then on a flower, and fluttering off again just as
Randolph's cap, or Constance's fairy hand, seemed on the
point of catching it, and taking care never to travel for two
yards in the same direction. At last it seemed tired of
playing, and zigzagged up and away out of sight, over a fine
old oak covered with moss and trimmed in several places
with tufts of fern, which grew where the biggest branches
forked out from the stem.
A green woodpecker flew off when it saw the children,
and laughed loudly, as if to show that it wasn't afraid; and
two starlings at the top of the oak, undisturbed by their
arrival, just looked down at them for an instant, and then
continued their conversation, and settled that it was high
time to teach their young ones to fly.
FALLING IN.-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 3
Constance and Randolph, being rather hot and tired, sat
down on a mossy bank ard fanned themselves with their
hats; and now, for the first time, noticed that the river
.-.! ,,- .- \,(
< I_ I" /
which ran through the forest was rippling along quite near
them, chattering gaily to all the little stones it could find to
makewhich ran through the forest was rippling along uite pebbles
them, chattering gaily to all the little stones it could find to
make conversation with. It was very clear; and the pebbles
4. UNDER THE WATER.
it took so much trouble to polish were easily seen at the
bottom. Deceitful pebbles that looked lovely and trans-
parent in the water, and ready to be made into brooches
and beautiful things, and that, when you took them out
and dried them, became dull and uninteresting directly, as
if they were cross at being meddled with !
After a few minutes, Constance jumped up, remembering
that they had no business to be out so long, or to wander so
far from the house, and exclaimed-
Miss Lamb will be very angry with us if we are late for
"And we shall get no pudding !" remarked Randolph.
Miss Lamb was the new governess, and was rather
strict; so that the children had come to the conclusion that
she "wasn't nice." But then she was under the disadvantage
of being constantly compared with Miss Bird, who had just
been obliged to leave on account of ill-health, and of whom
they had both been very fond.
"I wish little Miss Bird would come back," said
Constance: she was so very dear, and so very wee-so
much softer than Miss Lamb I wonder," she continued,
after a pause, "why she was ever called Miss Lamb: I'm
sure she isn't much like a lamb !"
She ought to be called 'Miss Lion!' said her brother,
Not 'Miss Lion,' Randolph: a lion's a he."
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 5
"' Miss Lioness,' then."
"No; Mrs. Lioness,' I think: but then you must be
married to be 'Mrs.,' and Miss Lamb's not. Let me see,"
she went on; I don't exactly know what the unmarried
young ones of a lion, are called."
I do," said Randolph. Don't you remember, we saw
some once at a wild beast show, and they were called
"Oh yes; so they were !" said Constance, dancing
about and clapping her hands. "So we must call her
'Cub'-' Miss Cub!' How angry she would be !"
"We won't tell her though," said Randolph, seriously.
Of course, we certainly won't; but come along We
must really get home as fast as we can."
Now, going home is not so easy, if you don't know
the way-as the little people soon found.
They wandered about for some time, and were beginning
to get a little frightened, when they approached the river
again; and every other thought was driven out of their
heads by the sight of a shoal of minnows making off towards
the middle of a shallow, and looking like a little cloud;
whilst the bright gleams every now and then seen, as some
of the tiny fish darted and turned in the water, might serve
to represent flashes of summer lightning coming from it.
"You dear little darling fish!" said Randolph. "Oh,
Conny, let's try to catch some !"
6 UNDER THE WATER.
"I don't exactly know how," said Constance. How
shall we, do you think ?"
Why, it's so shallow just here, that the water would
hardly be over our boots. If you get in a little way below,
and I get in above, we shall have the minnows between us;
and then I'm sure we ought to catch some out of all those."
Let's take off our boots and socks, then Oh, I do
like paddling, and we so seldom paddle !"
They both sat down, and took off their boots in a
Now then !" cried Randolph, "I '11 begin here, and you
can get in there. Mind you keep them back, Conny: it
looks deeper further'down.''
Cautiously they took up their positions a few yards
apart: the minnows were between them; but the water-
which, though only up to their ankles, was running faster
than they thought-broke against them in little waves, and
made it difficult for them to see anything distinctly.
"There they go !" shouted Randolph,-" right towards
you! Look out!"
Constance couldn't see them till they were quite close,
and then made sundry clutches at them as they darted
past; but of course in vain.
"I'm afraid it's no use," she said: "they can go so
fast, and they won't go straight."
"Never mind," replied Randolph, who had run a little
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 7
way down the bank; "I see them here, and can easily
drive them back."
Saying this, he jumped in again; but in doing so, his
foot slipped, and he had some difficulty in saving himself
_'<- -1- i tpA
from falling on his face in the water: the effort he made
took him a few feet further down, to where the bed of the
stream sloped suddenly off from the shallow. This, in his
fromfallng o hi fac in he wter theeffot hemad
8 UNDER THE WATER.
hurry and excitement, he had not noticed; and now the
additional pressure of water forced him to take a step
backwards, and then another. He became terrified, lost
his presence of mind, and in a moment more was swept off
his legs, and carried down towards a deep black pool below!
At his first cry of terror, Constance ran to his help, and
was only just too late to seize his hands, which were held
out to her as he was borne away.
She herself leaned forward so much, in her efforts to
save him, that she lost her balance where the treacherous
shallow came to an end; and, one false step in such a
position leading to another, she also was unable to retain
her footing, and in a few moments was struggling out of her
A few splashes seen lower down in the pool !-a pair of
little hands appearing above the surface !-a stifled cry !-a
splash still further down !-another cry, and hands thrown
wildly up for one moment! Will nobody come to save
them ? Something still moving! What is it? Golden
hair, floating for an instant, and slowly dragged down!
Even now it might not be too late, if any help was
Two little pairs of boots and socks on the bank, and
the cruel river dancing and rippling on as gaily as ever!
By the time the children had sunk to the bottom of the
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 9
pool, their struggles were nearly over, and they had almost
lost consciousness, when they were suddenly roused by the
/ f j,-s. 2' %3".
Hulloa what in the water do you want here ?"
And were astonished to see a queer little man standing
over them, and poking them with the stalk of a water-lily.
IO UNDER THE WATER.
He certainly was a very funny little man! Nose and
chin nearly met, as they do in those absurd faces made
out of a lobster's claw; his eyes were like beads-black
and glittering-and protruded somewhat from his head;
and, instead of beard or whiskers, he wore a few long
He was partly web-footed; and his hands, in the same
way, were well adapted for swimming.
He wore an otterskin coat, with small shells for buttons;
eelskin trousers, and a cap of the same material.
This last was merely an eelskin pulled a little way
over his head, and hanging down behind as low as his
"What in the water do you want here ?" he repeated.
The children tried to answer, but, their lungs being
still full of air, they only produced a lot of bubbles,
which went up through the water like so many tiny
"Ah you haven't learnt our way of talking yet," said
the little man. "Come behind this rock, out of the draught,
and I'll teach you how to do it. My name's 'Wriggle:'
what's yours ?"
A few more bubbles from the children.
"Well, this is provoking!" cried the little man, who
seemed of a rather impatient disposition. "Never mind;
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. II
Constance and Randolph did so, and soon found them-
selves behind the shelter of a rock, and in still water-" out
of the draught," as their guide called it.
It was very curious, walking at the bottom of the pool,
as they hardly felt any weight on their feet, and could get
on so slowly.
"Sit down," said Wriggle, pointing to a ledge of rock.
"And now get rid of all that air,"
he continued: we don't want
Then, seeing the children
look enquiringly at him, he
"Try to repeat anything
you know-poetry, for instance.
.j Of course, at first you can
only try; but the air will
I go. Now begin."
\ But it was too
S\bad to expect the
/ children, who had
just gone through
Sso much, to sit
quietly down and
repeat poetry; they seemed to have forgotten every line
they had ever learnt
12 UNDER THE WATER.
"Then repeat after me," said the little man; "and
when the bubbles stop, you can stop too."
So saying, he commenced:
"Underneath the dancing water,
What a merry life is led
By the elves who sport and frolic
On the river's stony bed!
Through the secret caves we wander,
Down the waterfalls we go,
Where the pools are dark and-silent,
Where the crystal rapids flow.
Where the little trout are hatching,
Underneath the silver sand;
As he said the last words, Wriggle noticed that the
bubbles -had ceased.
Come," he said; "that's better Now, if you want
to talk, all you have to do is to open your mouth rather
wide, and form the words as usual: the water will carry the
proper vibrations. In the water, one doesn't exactly hear
a person speak,-one feels what he says. Try !"
Constance tried; but it seemed so odd, that she began
to laugh, and there was only a sort of swirling in the water.
"Oh dear !" exclaimed the little man, testily: "this is
very bad You can't learn anything if you laugh."
He looked so grave that she stopped at once, and actually
managed to say, distinctly enough for him to hear-or feel,
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 13
I will try-indeed I will; but it's all so very new !"
"Never mind, my dear," said Wriggle, more kindly;
it will soon come. Now, tell me your name ?"
Constance told him.
"And yours ?" he asked, turning to Randolph.
Randolph, after several attempts, managed to
S-- Hum! said the little man, looking him
over in a way that made him feel rather
uncomfortable. "That's a big name for
such a small boy!"
"I don't think I'm so very little,"
returned Randolph: but they often
call me 'Joe' at home," he added,
S"You shall be called nothing else down
here," said Wriggle; "you may depend
- .-.l |- -------- .At this moment-and just as Con-
stance and Joe (as he is to be
called) were thinking that
'.'--.: it was rather cool of
W1i.LJ;4 to call anyone else
small"-a large yellow frog came up.
He looked at the children for a moment with a stupid
stare, and then, seeing in whose company they were, was
14 UNDER THE WATER.
about to proceed on his way, without making any remark,
when Wriggle called out:
"Well, Mug, where are you off to ?"
Going down to the mill," answered the frog: "there
isn't much stirring up above-worms or anything else."
I wish," said Wriggle, that you would look in at the
Cave in Black Rock Pool, and tell Mrs. Wriggle that there
will be company at dinner, and that I should be glad if she
would come up at once, with the children."
"All right," answered Mug; and he kicked off down the
We call him 'Mug' because he's got such a mouth,"
said Wriggle, turning to Constance. Mrs. Wriggle," he
went on, took the children down the river this morning for
a little change of water. She hasn't been quite the thing
lately, and at one time we were rather afraid of air on the
brain; but Dr. Leech thinks all danger of that is over now.
When she comes up, I daresay you would like to play with
the children. They are called 'Caper' and 'Jerk:' not
fine long names,"-here he looked at poor Randolph,-
"but good useful ones."
But please," said Constance, timidly, I don't think
we can stay here till they come, because it's quite dinner-
time, and Miss Lamb will be so angry; and I'm afraid
poor mamma will be frightened if we are away much longer;
so indeed we must go home !"
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 15
At the thought of mamma and home she couldn't help cry-
ing; and Joe, who had been very near it for some time, cried too.
Go home ?" said Wriggle,-" how could you go home ?
Why, you're drowned, you know !"
Drowned !" said Joe. "Why, I always thought- "
"Well, what did you think ? Come, now !"
I thought that when you were drowned you were dead !"
And couldn't talk," said Constance, joining in.
Or feel hungry," added Joe.
"There !" said the little man, with an impatient stamp.
"There that's what comes of living in the air I always
said so; and could anything be more ridiculous ? To think
that because you may happen to give up living above the
water, you can't live under it Why, the water's ever so
much nicer to live in! Oh, I know all about it!" he
continued. There are plenty of people to be met with in
this very stream who are as much in the air as they are in
the water, and they all say the water's the best! Frogs,
moor-hens, dippers, water-rats-all say how much prettier
and more amusing, and cooler-in-summer and warmer-in-
winter, it is here than up above You'll soon like it; and
besides, there are so many things to see !"
"Are there ?" cried Constance, brightening up a little;
" and shall I see some ?"
Of course," answered Wriggle. But what are you
rubbing your face for with that white thing ?"
16 UNDER THE WATER.
Why, to dry my eyes, you know!"
Dry your eyes How can you possibly dry them, with
the water all round you everywhere ?"
And he began laughing at her.
At this Joe, who had taken his handkerchief out too, put
it back in his pocket, without being caught.
"At any rate," remarked the little man, "that shows
that you had forgotten about the water: you don't feel wet,
do you ?"
Well, I actually declare I don't," exclaimed Constance,
after considering for a moment, and spreading her fingers
out before her. Do you, Randolph-Joe, I mean ?"
I don't exactly know what I feel," answered Joe ; but
not wet, I think."
Of course you don't," chuckled the little man. If
you were on the bank now, I daresay you would feel wet:
your clothes would stick to you, and your hair would be all
straight down, instead of floating nicely about; but here
the water keeps everything in its place, and, as it doesn't
trickle, why should you feel it ? I'm sure it's not so tiring
to stand in as air. I hate air Get out !"
As he said the last words, he made a poke with his lily-
stalk at a great pike who was passing along. The pike looked
at him angrily for a moment, and then, with a swish of his tail,
which made the water boil all round him, forced himself under
a large mass of weeds on the opposite side of the river,..
FALLING IN-WITH GOVERNOR WRIGGLE. 17
"Those are nasty customers," observed Wriggle, "and
have to be kept in order; though after all they are no
worse than your dogs. Not that they ever dare to attack
me," he added, with an air of immense superiority. I'm
the governor of this pool Did you know that ?"
No, we didn't," said Joe.
But," said Constance, who thought Joe's answer hardly
sounded civil, "we thought that you must be some very
Ah !" said Governor Wriggle. Yes; I certainly have
a great deal of power, and of responsibility."
After a pause-during which he perhaps thought of his
domestic responsibilities-he continued rather quickly :
I must now leave you for a bit, as I have to meet
Mrs. Wriggle, and see after the dinner."
Then, noticing that the children looked somewhat
alarmed at the idea of being left alone, he added:
"Take this lily-stem, and then everything down here
will be civil to you: they all know it; and besides, any-
one holding it can hear what is being said by the water and
the trees, and so on. You see, it is very necessary I should
know what is going on, in case of-conspiracy, or anything."
So saying, Governor Wriggle placed the lily-stalk in
Constance's hand, and immediately disappeared round the
corner of the rock.
tbe Ipassionate larva, anb the Storg of
the IlItler's Zbumb.
N being left alone, the children felt a little
dismal, and would very likely have begun to
'i talk about home-which might have led to
more tears-when their attention was luckily
attracted by a splashing in the water above
This was caused by the rush of the pike
they had seen before, at a poor little half-grown moor-hen,
which, in spite of its struggles, was soon carried down
among the thick weeds at the side of the bank.
"Poor little thing!" said Constance; "how sorry I
THE PASSIONATE LARVA. 19
"Nasty great fish !" exclaimed Joe. I wish I was a
man, and could kill it."
"I wish I could kill you !" cried a sharp angry little
voice close to his ear.
The children looked round, and on the stem of a bulrush
they perceived an insect, armed with a formidable pair of
It was stretching itself out towards Joe as far as ever it
could, and was evidently very angry indeed !
"You wish you could kill me ?" said Joe. "Why, who
are you ?"
"I'm a larva of a dragon-fly," said the thing; "and
some day I shall be a dragon-fly. I only wish I was a
dragon I 'd show you whether you are to get in my way !"
"You needn't be in a passion," remarked Constance:
" I'm sure we were not hurting you."
Not hurting me ? Yes, you were. If it hadn't been
for you, I should have caught a small creature that was
coming this way; but you moved, and frightened it; other-
wise, I should have torn it to pieces by this time: I wish
I was tearing it now!"
"You're a pretty fellow," said Joe. "Well, I'm glad
the creature got off!"
"Glad, are you ?" cried the larva, getting more excited
than ever. Oh, you air-sucking monster! I do wish I
was bigger; I'd dig my nippers into you, and cut you in
20 UNDER THE WATER.
two, and tear you up I should like to suck every drop of
blood out of your body-I should !"
Pooh !" laughed Joe, mockingly.
"You really are dreadfully spiteful !" said Constance.
I know that," returned the larva. Our family have
always had the reputation of being the spitefullest people in
the water: I mean to keep it up, and should like to be
the most spiteful of all !"
You're likely to have your wish," observed Joe.
But it's really very wicked to talk like that," said
I don't care a drop I was born wicked, and I 'm glad
"Glad to be wicked ?"
"Yes; glad! GLAD GLAD!!! If I hadn't been born
wicked, I'd have become so on purpose; as it is, I can't
Oh, but you can if you like !" said the little girl.
"How dare you talk to me about 'can,' when I say
can't !' One must be what one's born to be. It's all very
fine for those who are born good-don't tell me !"
"But you must know better than that," answered
Constance. Some people may be born better than others;
but everyone who tries really hard can be good-everyone !"
"At any rate, I won't try," said the larva-" not for a
moment-not once I '11 be as cruel as ever I can-always !
THE PASSIONATE LARVA. 21
I can do a good deal even now; but just wait till I 'm a
dragon-fly-then you'll see !"
"What will you do then ?" asked Joe.
From morning till night, all day long and every day,
I'll kill and eat everything I possibly can; and even when
I can't eat any more, I'll keep on killing !"
Do let us come away," whispered Constance to her
brother. It must be wrong even to listen to such a wicked
"It's the loveliest word I know!" continued the larva-
" killing !' I'm never happy unless I 'm killing something
Oh, you sweet pet !" laughed Joe, preparing to follow
Constance, of whom he was so fond that he generally did
what she asked him at once-" take care you don't burst
with good nature !"
If I thought that by doing so I could hurt you ever so
little," cried the larva, I'd burst this moment!"
Would you indeed ?" said Joe: "hurt that then."
And he poked a little bit of weed at the larva.
This was quite too much! The creature curled and
wriggled with passion, and tore at the weed with its nippers.
In so doing, it let go its hold of the bulrush, and went
down to the bottom, jerking itself about in a frenzy of
Just at this moment, a trout, which happened to be
22 UNDER THE WATER.
passing, caught sight of it, came up, and swallowed it,
without having any idea what a rage its victim was in: not
that it would have cared if it had known.
"That's a good thing for the flies," said Joe to his
"Yes," replied she; "and I don't suppose there's any
harm in being a little glad; but it's uncomfortable to think
about, and I'm sorry there are such wicked things down
Now," suggested Joe, as they moved away, "let's try
if we can find anyone else to talk to: old Wriggle said
there were plenty of things about. How do you like him,
I think he means to be kind; but one has to be very
careful not to offend him. I wonder whether he's really a
Only of this pool, you know, at any rate; and that's
not so very grand-no grander than being the governor
of"-here he hesitated for a comparison, and ended rather
feebly-" of something not very grand up above. Oh, look
there !-look !" added he suddenly, as he caught hold of his
"Oh dear!" cried Constance, as she looked in the
direction to which he pointed : "what shall we do ? I feel
quite frightened !"
And really she had some cause for being so; for- the
THE PASSIONATE LARVA. 23
same pike, or even a larger one, was moving slowly about
among the weeds near them, and, with its wicked eye fixed
on them, seemed to be making up its mind whether to
attack them or not.
Suddenly, Constance remembered the lily-stalk, which
she pointed boldly at the fish, when, to their great satisfac-
tion, it turned round and made off rather hurriedly.
"That's capital!" cried Joe. "We needn't be afraid
of anything now, Conny."
"No," replied his sister; "and we can trust Governor
Wriggle, as he has been right in what he told us."
As she spoke, her eye was caught by a very small fish,
with a very big head, that was lying near them, quite at the
"What an odd fish !" said Joe, as she pointed it out to
The children approached to have a good look, but as
they did so, it darted quickly away.
Constance followed it, and, when she arrived within
speaking distance, said very gently:
Would you mind talking to us, please ? We won't try
to catch you."
"You couldn't, if you were to try and try !" said the
I daresay not; besides, we have had quite enough of
trying to catch little fish to-day."
24 UNDER THE WATER.
Is that a story?" asked their new acquaintance, with
much interest, because I like stories."
"Yes, it is," answered Joe ; "and we 'll tell it to you, if
you will tell us one in return: I'm sure that's fair."
Very well," said the little fish : tell me yours first."
They told him; and he was so much amused at the idea
of their trying to catch minnows, and being drowned for
their pains, that he darted backwards and forwards, and
quivered in every fin.
When you've quite done laughing," said Constance,
"it's your turn, you know."
"I'm not laughing," returned the fish: "it's only you
two-legged air-suckers that laugh."
Well, when you've quite finished what you do instead
of laughing," said Joe, perhaps you'll begin your story ?
And," he added, "that's the second time I've been called
an air-sucker.' I don't like it !"
So you are an air-sucker-or at least you were, till you
took to catching minnows "
Here the fins began quivering again. When he recovered,
Constance said :
"Will you first tell us your name, please ?"
"My name is 'Miller's Thumb.'"
"What a curious name !" remarked Joe.
"Well, it is curious, certainly; but there's a good
reason for it."
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB. 25
What's that ?" asked both the children at once.
"Ah! there's a story attached to that," replied the
little fish, rather gravely.
"Oh, then, let's have that story !" exclaimed Constance.
"Yes," said Joe; "let's."
"Very well," said the Miller's Thumb; "so you shall.
Now, if you promise not to move, I'll come nearer to you."
The children promised.
So the little fish rose up through the water, and poised
himself opposite their faces, and having cleared his gills, thus
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB.
Once upon a time, there were no fish called Miller's
Thumbs. It must have been very many years ago, for ours
is quite an ancient family; and the oldest pebble in this
pool couldn't remember the time, although it is getting
hollow with age.
However, in those days there lived a fine old miller,
who was loved and respected by all his neighbours through
the country-side: and no wonder! for he had a kind heart,
a pleasant smile, and an open hand.
Folk used to say that he was never more tired of doing
good than was the water of turning his wheel; but he was
even better than that! For the water was sometimes too
low in summer, or unpleasantly high in winter; whereas the
miller's charity flowed on just the same all the year round.
26 UNDER THE WATER.
When poor people came to the mill to buy flour, they
always hoped to see the miller standing at his door; for
when he served them himself, it was his custom to add two
large handfuls to the quantity told out in the scales-' in
case,' as he said, 'the weight should happen to be short.'
This was so well known, that when any old dame, toddling
up to the mill with an empty bag, met another coming away
with a full one, she would say, 'Well, Goody, did you get
an "in case" this morning?' And, by the answer, she
would know whether the miller was at home or not.
"Now the miller had an only daughter, who was as
beautiful and bright as a summer morning, and as merry as
the little ripples which chased each other along at the tail
of the millpool, after they had done their duty by helping to
turn the wheel; and she was as good as she was beautiful--
you may be sure of that, for she had her father's example
always before her!-which shows," added the little fish,
seriously, how much example may do, and how careful a
person ought to be.
One fine morning, the miller's daughter had been up to
the 'scarlet field,' as it was called, on account of the beautiful
scarlet hawthorns which grew in the hedges round it.
She had been up to the scarlet field, milking the cows,
and was returning with a pailful of rich warm milk, when
she met a stranger on horseback, handsomely attired in a
THE STORY OF THE,MILLER'S THUMB. 27
"She stepped modestly on one side as he approached;
but, attracted by her beauty, he reined
in his steed, and gazed at her so
earnestly that her cheeks become
covered with blushes.
"She was moving on a; '.' .".
quickly as she might, when, in .:. -
the voice of one evidently .. .'. :.
accustomed to be obeyed, -'
he called to -"
her to stop, .' .i
and demanded ,
she was '
Dyun k,, me-, ? .' h akd I am -h _ns -- '.
I ./ ; 1''/ 'i [l.-- I ',"'g '
uk I' he "'I I
'Do you not know me ?' he asked 'I am the King's son'
28 UNDER THE WATER.
"Now,, the miller's daughter, although she had never
seen him before, had often heard him spoken of, and knew
that he was a wicked and unscrupulous man, feared and
hated by all his father's subjects.
Having, therefore, told him her name, she added that
her father was waiting for his morning meal, and begged
that she might be excused from any longer delay.
Tarry a moment !' cried the prince, as he rode close
up to her. By my golden spurs, I vow that so fair a face
as thine hath not crossed my path for many a day; and if
thou wilt return with me to the palace, I will make thee a
princess, and thou shalt live right royally.'
"'Not so, my liege, an it please you,' replied the
terrified maiden. 'I am not trained to live in palaces.
Moreover, I have a kind and loving father, and must remain
at home to minister to him.'
For she dearly loved her father and her quiet, happy
home. No spot on earth, she was sure, could'ever seem so
beautiful to her as the little island on which the mill was
placed; no sound so pleasant as the clack of the busy
wheel; no sight so gladdening as that of the bright rainbow-
coloured drops it shook merrily off into the sunshine, or of
the long clear icicles which, when the winter air was keen,
and the robin kept close to the window-sill, hung from
wherever the splashes of water could reach the wooden
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB. 29
Moreover, she knew and loved so many poor people in
the hamlet close by, that the very thought of their being
left for long without a visit from herself-and her well-known
basket, which went out so heavy and came back so light-
was enough to make her sad.
Besides, she did not believe in his flattering promises;
and even if she could have done so, she cared nothing for a
change of life. Why should she ? For the miller and his
daughter were as happy as the day was long; and they were
happy because they were good !
"As she remained silent before him, the prince put to
his lips the silver bugle, which was slung over his shoulder
by a silken cord, and wound it till the hill-side took up the
merry sound, and sent back an answering echo.
The notes had hardly died away, when two gallants
came spurring up, and saluted their liege lord.
"Of these, he commanded one to follow him to the
trysting-place, where the sports of the day were to com-
mence; and to the other he spoke as. follows:
'Accompany yon maiden to her father's house, and tell
him that the King's son desires his daughter's attendance at
the palace. If the parent hath aught of discretion, he will,
doubtless, see the necessity of parting with his daughter;
but, an he show a stubborn and unyielding disposition, tell
him roundly that if the maiden be not at. the Castle gate
ere the sun hath thrice set, he shall learn, to his cost, what
30 UNDER THE WATER.
it is to spurn the favours and invite the vengeance of a
So saying, the prince put spurs to his horse and went
off at full speed, followed by his other attendant. The
trembling maiden soon reached her father's roof, and,
throwing herself weeping into the miller's arms, told him
all that had taken place.
"Never a word did the miller say to his daughter, but
he kissed her lovingly, and strode to the door of the'mill.
"There stood the horseman, who, having dismounted
and tied his horse to a staple in the wall, was about to seek
Forbear to enter,' said the miller, in a strange husky
voice, so unlike his usual hearty tones; 'and mount again
thy steed. I know thine errand, which, as the fault lies not
with thee, I am willing to spare thee the shame of repeating.
Thou art required to carry an answer to thy master. Say
to him, therefore, that though I be a miller, and he the
son of a King, I believe not his promises, require not his
favours, and fear not his threats This is my only message.'
"The horseman threw himself into the saddle again,
and bowed low to the miller before riding away-for in his
heart he approved of such a manly spirit-and seeing how
idle it would be to beg him to soften his answer, thought it
best to offer no remonstrance, even though he feared what
the consequences of sending such a message might be,
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB. 31
The sun went down that night behind a bank of fleecy
clouds, which blushed rosily as its beams fell on their soft
"When the next day drew to its close, there was a red
angry look in the sky; and dark streaks served to make the
lurid light more threatening, as they stretched like bars
Before sunset on the third evening, wild storm-clouds
were packed in the western sky, from which, every now and
then, issued vivid flashes of lightning, followed by low growls
of distant thunder. Evidently, a fearful storm was brewing.
None of the miller's neighbours had been informed of
what had happened, lest their kindly feelings towards him-
self and his daughter might induce them to offer a hopeless
resistance, should his life or property be placed in peril; so,
taking no other precaution, he put his trust in a Providence
which he knew to be mightier than any kingly power.
On that third evening, then, as the storm-clouds grew
darker, and the lightning played faster and more fiercely,
and the growls of thunder became louder as they approached
and broke into angry roars, and the heavy rain-drops fell
hissing in the deep black millpool, and the wind came down
the valley and swept-first with a moaning sound, and then
with a wild shriek-round the building, the brave miller and
his daughter sat down in the old room they loved so well,
and waited for what might happen.
32 UNDER THE WATER.
They were not long left in suspense Through all the
wild music of the storm a sound was heard, which made
the miller start suddenly up, and caused the face of his
lovely daughter to grow deadly pale. It was the sound of
the trampling of many horses, and the angry clash of steel!
In another moment a body of men, led by the prince
himself, dashed open the door, and stood before them.
The face of the prince was livid with passion, and his
voice trembled as he spoke :
"' Rash fool! Did I rightly understand thy message,
or hast thou not repented thee thereof ?'
The miller's voice was calm and clear, even in that
moment of danger, as he drew his daughter more closely to
'The message I sent thee was too short to have been
forgotten by the way, and-I do not repent me.'
"' Hast thou, then, counted the cost ?' demanded the
prince, with a glance of cruel meaning.
'As to that,' replied the miller, 'my determination will
never falter, and I fear not the worst that thou canst do !'
"At these words the prince turned to his followers.
'Seize me yon caitiff,' he cried, 'and lead him forth to
his doom Cut off each finger of his hands, and tear out
his insolent tongue; and then nail him to his own wheel,
which shall be set going, to see if the weight of its master's
body can interfere with its proper working !'
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB. 33
On hearing this cruel sentence, the terrified maiden-
who, when the prince and his attendants first entered, had
buried her face on her father's bosom-slipped from his
arms and fell swooning on the floor.
The miller was quickly seized, and firmly bound; and
as he was being led forth, the prince exclaimed :
"'I will attend in person, to see that my orders are
rigorously carried out. One of you remain here and attend
to the maiden, with whom I will deal on my return.'
So saying, he left the house with his followers, who
hurried their victim to the side of the milldam, where the
rail of the foot-bridge offered a suitable, block on which to
carry out the first part of the sentence.
"The prince himself stood on the bridge, that so he
might lose sight of nothing that went on.
"Already the miller's two thumbs had been struck off and
thrown into the water, and the executioners were preparing
to sever the fingers one by one, when a flash of lightning, more
vivid than any which had preceded it, lit up the horrid scene !
"Then was heard a heavy fall, followed by a stifled
groan; and the attendants, standing immediately about the
prince, uttered a cry of dismay, as, on raising their master
from the ground, they discovered that he had been struck
dead-dead in a single instant !"
Here the little fish was silent for a few moments, and
34 UNDER THE WATER.
the children did not feel inclined to speak. Presently he
"Of course, the miller was instantly released, as the
executioners were carrying out the prince's orders only
under fear of his displeasure. The joyful meeting between
father and child can be left to the imagination: it is enough
to say that the miller's wounds were soon healed, and that
he and his daughter lived happily together for many years
And now," said the little fish, in conclusion, "comes
that bit of the story most interesting to myself! In order
that no part of such a brave and worthy man should be
prematurely lost, the miller's thumbs were changed into
little fish, of which I am one of the descendants So, you
see, I have some reason to pride myself on my family,
though I hope I shall never become overbearing in con-
sequence. Hulloa Here comes Wriggle, I see Wriggle
is a bore Good-morning."
The Miller's Thumb said the last words rather
abruptly, and was going off towards the deepest part of
the pool before the children could think of anything to
Constance, however, managed to call out:
"Good-bye We liked your story so much !"
But whether the Miller's Thumb heard her or not is
THE STORY OF THE MILLER'S THUMB. 35
"It was very interesting, wasn't it ?" said Joe to his
"Yes," replied she; "but I am so sorry that the miller
lost his thumbs, after all."
"Of course," answered Joe (who was rather practical);
"but if some miller hadn't lost his thumbs, there wouldn't
have been any Miller's Thumb fish. However," he added,
" I'm sorry it was that miller."
R Dinner aib a Bucting.
SOW have you been getting on ?" asked Wriggle,
as he came up. "I thought you might be glad
to hear," he continued, "that Mrs. Wriggle
has returned with Caper and. Jerk."
Very glad," said Constance.
And that dinner is just ready."
"Awfully glad !" said Joe.
"Hungry, eh ? That's capital! Hunger is the best
sauce, and the only one we keep down here. We never
dine without it, as it's so easily obtained."
"Not always, is it?" asked Constance: "not when
you're ill, for instance ?"
"Then you put off dinner," said Governor Wriggle.
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 37
Ah but if you should be ill for a week or so ?"
"Then you put off dinner for a week or so: it's very
simple. Come along now," he added, as he led the way to
his house, which was a beautiful cave underneath the bank.
You approached it through a plantation of water-lilies,
and round the entrance hung a fringe of lovely trailing
weed. It was rather dim, what light there was being pale
green, and very trying to the complexion.
"That's where my feelers come in useful," remarked
Wriggle. I can find anything anywhere."
As he spoke, the party entered the cave, and Wriggle
performed the ceremony of introduction in a very dignified
It was some time before the children could see plainly;
but when they became more accustomed to the dim light,
they made out that Mrs. Wriggle was a sharp-faced, not to
say acid-looking person, dressed in a petticoat made of
Over her shoulders was thrown a tippet of the same,
trimmed with feathers from a dab-chick's breast. In her
weedy-looking hair were stuck a couple of yellow water-
lilies, which Constance did not consider at all becoming.
The boys, Caper and Jerk, who bore a strong family
likeness to their father, were dressed very much in the same
way, except that their jackets were made of water-rat skins,
the tails of which were allowed to remain on.
38 UNDER THE WATER.
Caper was about one hundred years old, and Jerk about
eighty-mere children, when it is remembered that water-
elves live to such an immense age. Mr. and Mrs. Wriggle
were each six or seven hundred years old, and likely to live
for many a century to come.
Water-elves are, as everybody knows, rather rare. They
do not go about in bands; but one family will haunt for ages
some lonely pool, holding very little intercourse with others
of their kind.
They are always considered the chief personages of the
deeps they inhabit, and at one time their power was almost
absolute; but that was long ago, and now all that sort of
thing is dying out, even in the water. So Wriggle was
beginning to find it best not to assert himself too much; at
the same time, he took good care, by the occasional use of
his title, not to let his claims to the governorship die out
Now then, Caper," said Mrs. Wriggle, "we're quite
ready for dinner."
Caper, immediately on hearing this, stood on his head
and kicked violently.
"I suppose now, you would call that 'ringing the bell,'?"
I'm sure I shouldn't !" cried Joe.
"At any rate, it's the same sort of thing. When you
ring a bell, you set the waves of air in motion: Caper has
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 39
__ just done the same with
Regard to the water. We
can call anyone from right
across the river: you 'll soon see.
H'' e pointed to several
Convenient stones placed
round a large flat rock
S -- of granite, which rose
1 k in the middle of the cave.
Just as they had taken
2 j IP. .'-."? their seats, a fine chub
Sswam solemnly in at the
-' -k -. "" entrance, and the children
saw at once that he must be
the butler, by the way in which he directed the movements
of half-a-dozen smart young dace, who were bringing in the
As a butler, that chub was perfect. He looked so
important and grand, that it seemed almost a liberty to ask
him to perform the smallest service; and he was so very
grave and self-possessed, that even if he had been waiting
on a party of grigs, all cutting jokes at once, he would never
have condescended to smile. But Joe didn't look at him
much, being anxious to see what there was to eat.
"I'm afraid there isn't much dinner for you," said Wriggle.
40 UNDER THE WATER.
"Who's to help that ?" said his wife, speaking as if he
had complained of her housekeeping, and up in arms
directly-" who 's to help that, I should like to know ?"
I didn't mean that you could help it, my dear: I only
wished to remark how unfortunate it was that we didn't
know we should receive visitors, in time to get something
"When people," said Mrs. Wriggle, "drop in unex-
pectedly like this, they ought to be glad to take whatever
they can get."
She looked straight in front of her as she spoke.
This made Constance feel very uncomfortable; and as
there was rather an awkward pause, she felt almost obliged
to say something.
I know we dropped in very unexpectedly," said she, in
a low soft voice; "but you see, we didn't know we were
coming ourselves; and I'm sure we're very much obliged
to you for whatever you can give us."
Hum !" said Mrs. Wriggle. Mouth round !"
This command was addressed to the dace, who there-
upon took the dishes round the table-in their mouths, of
There were plenty of shell-fish of various kinds, besides
watercress and other spring vegetables ; and, in addition to
these, several fine ears of corn were offered to each person.
How do you get this beautiful corn ?" asked Constance,
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 41
From Whiskers," replied Jerk, who had not yet spoken.
"How can she understand that ?" exclaimed Wriggle.
" Don't interrupt."
"There you go again," said Mrs. Wriggle; "always
snubbing that poor boy !"
My dear," replied Wriggle, I do not think the reproof
"I do !" answered his wife.
Here there was another unpleasant pause, and this time
Joe broke the silence.
Who's Whiskers ?" he asked.
But Wriggle was sulky, and wouldn't answer; his wife
pretended not to hear, and Jerk glued his eyes to the shell
which he was using instead of a plate.
Joe, therefore, repeated in a lower tone to Caper, who
was sitting next to him :
Who's Whiskers, do you know ?"
"Whiskers is a rat," replied Caper, "and brings the
wheat from the cornfields or rick-yards."
"Yes," said Wriggle, joining in; "he is a good sort of
person, and I employ him a great deal in that way, in return
for which he has my protection."
What do you protect him from ?" asked Joe, bluntly.
Eh ? Oh Well, you see, there has been no occasion
yet for anyone to protect him; but I should feel myself
bound to do so if the occasion ever arose, In fact," he
42 UNDER THE WATER.
added, drawing himself up, and speaking very grandly, he
has my protection; and of course that's a great thing for
There was something in Wriggle's voice that made even
Joe think it best not to reply; and for the next few minutes
every one was very busy, eating.
The dace made excellent waiters-so quick and noiseless
in their movements, and with such sharp eyes that they
found out what you wanted as soon as you did yourself-and
they were not obliged to go round the table, as they could so
easily swim over it.
There was, however, one mishap; for, whilst carrying a
cockle-shell over Mrs. Wriggle, a dace let it turn in his
mouth, and the contents quietly settled on her head.
This did not escape the observation of the watchful
chub, who swam deliberately after the culprit, and, in spite
of several quick dashes on the part of the latter, got him
opposite the entrance of the cave, when, with a sudden
rush, he pushed him out into the stream.
He remained for a few seconds looking after him, and
then slowly returned, as if nothing had happened.
"You are not eating," observed Wriggle to Joe; and
then-turning to the dace behind his chair, and pointing to
a fine ear of corn-he said, Mouth him that !"
The dace took up the corn, and swam with it to Joe,
who thanked him politely.
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 43
Everything seemed to go so much further, and to be so
much nicer, than he expected, that Joe was really getting
on very well, though he hadn't much liked the look of things
when dinner was first brought in.
How curious it seems," he observed, with his mouth
full, to eat everything uncooked !"
Uncooked ?-uncooked ?" said Mrs. Wriggle. What
does he mean ?"
"He means," explained Constance, "not roasted, or
boiled, or baked."
"I never tasted any of them," said Mrs. Wriggle,
"Ah! but they are nothing to eat; they are"-and
Constance hesitated for a moment-"they are what's done
to things that are going to be eaten."
Perhaps someone else understands that," said Mrs.
Wriggle-" I don't !"
I think I can explain, my love," said Governor Wriggle.
If you can, it will be a great wonder," replied his
"Well, I learnt it from Whiskers, who told me that
when he goes up to the farm-house, he often finds a
bone, or something that has been in the fire, and that
air-people always put their food in the fire before they
eat it. That's true, isn't it?" he added, appealing to
44 UNDER THE WATER.
"Well, we make use of the fire in different ways; to
heat our food, and call it cooking,' answered Constance.
"You couldn't make use of it down here," remarked
Joe: the water would put it out."
"Put it out! I should hope it would indeed," said
Wriggle, who seemed a little put out himself. I wouldn't
have any for anything. Why, only the other night there
was more light coming through the water than I quite
approved of; and, on going to see about it, I learnt from a
frog, who had just hopped in off the bank, that one of the
wheat-stacks-my wheat-stacks !-was on fire, and would
be quite destroyed! Look at that now! That couldn't
have occurred in the water!"
No; it certainly couldn't," said Constance. But
what do you do on very dark nights, when you happen to
want light ?"
We don't happen to," said Mrs. Wriggle.
But if you did-if anyone became suddenly ill ?'
We could be ill quite well in the dark," returned Mrs.
Wriggle; besides, we've got our feelers. Yours will soon
At this, Constance and Joe instinctively put their hands
to their chins, not at all liking the notion of wearing such
"Though, to be sure," said Wriggle, "there are such
things as water-lamps used by some connections of ours,
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 45
who live at the mouth of the river-' the sea,' it's called;
but then they can afford to do things in a grand way. They
employ millions and billions of tiny pages, who, at certain
times, have each to carry a little lamp. It's a very pretty
sight: the waves look quite on fire sometimes."
"We haven't introduced the fashion here yet," said
Mrs. Wriggle; though of course we could."
She frowned at her husband as she spoke, not liking
him to make himself out poorer than his relations; then,
moving away from the rock, she went off to a corner of the
cave, and lay down on her bed of white sand.
Constance and Joe were very glad that dinner was over,
as everything had been so formal and stiff.
Caper and Jerk were evidently afraid to say a word
before their parents; but they looked so much pleasanter
than the old people, that the children hoped to get away
and have a good game with them.
And they were not disappointed; for Wriggle announced
that he had a business appointment, which would engage
him most of the afternoon.
"Caper and Jerk, however," he added, "will do the
honours of my domain, if you are inclined for a swim
-The children were delighted, and, in thanking him, tried
not to show how glad they were that he wasn't coming
46 UNDER THE WATER.
They were standing at that moment just outside the
cave, and could see a long way up towards the shallow
through the beautiful clear water.
"What's that?" asked Constance, pointing towards a
dark brown bird, with a white breast, that was actually
running along on the gravel, and searching busily for worms
"That's a 'dipper,' replied Wriggle: "a pretty bird,
isn't it ? I let it come here," he added, in a patronising
manner, "whenever it likes."
"Very kind of you," thought Joe. I wonder what you
would do if you didn't want it." But he only said:
Well, I never heard of birds running about at the
bottom of the river before !"
Very likely not," said Wriggle, drily.
But birds never do," persisted Joe.
Wriggle turned and looked into his face.
I don't like your eyes very much, myself," he said,
after a pause: they don't stand out enough to be worth
much; but I think it's a pity that you should contradict
them so flatly. They tell you that a bird is at this moment
running along under water, not ten yards off, and you
declare that 'birds never do !' Why, if Caper or Jerk were
to say anything half so silly as that, I should consider it my
duty to duck him till he hadn't a kick left in him !"
Constance and Joe began wondering how people under
A DINNER AND A DUCKING. 47
water could be ducked; and Caper and Jerk both looked
sulky at being so spoken of before strangers, when the sharp
voice of Mrs. Wriggle was suddenly heard behind them.
I forgot," she said, "to ask for some air-weed. Jerk,
go and bring me a lock."
We take a few globules of air," said Wriggle, explaining
to Constance, "when we feel at all faint-in the same way
as people up above might take a glass of water-and there
is a certain kind of weed on which these globules collect
more than on others; so we call it air-weed. Mrs. Wriggle,"
he added, "generally takes some after dinner."
Oh, I see," said Constance.
At this moment, Jerk came back with his hands in his
Can't find any," said he.
Not find any ?" said his mother. "You haven't looked
"Yes, I have; and besides, I ain't Chub: he's the
And he threw himself on the gravel, and looked stub-
Am I to be spoken to like this ?" cried Mrs. Wriggle,
turning angrily to her husband.
"Certainly not, my love," replied Wriggle. "Now,
Jerk, be off directly, and bring back a lock in less than no
48 UNDER THE WATER.
Shan't !" said Jerk.
He pronounced this word in such a very determined
manner that Wriggle flew into a passion, and, darting on
his rebellious son, seized hold of him and ascended with
him through the water.
The children were quite astonished at the agility he
If Jerk turned and twisted himself about, Wriggle turned
and twisted still more, and, in spite of his victim's struggles,
soon reached the surface; when-just underneath it him-
self-he held his son's head out in the air so long, that at
last, when he let him sink quietly to the bottom, it was
some time before he had done gasping for water.
After that, Constance and Joe quite understood what
" ducking" meant.
"There!" said Wriggle, as he picked up his eelskin
cap-" that will teach you better manners, I hope. And
now be off with you all, as soon as you like."
He then turned to Mrs. Wriggle :
"If you will go and lie down on your bed, my love, I
will bring you a nice lock myself."
So saying, he swam off up the stream, and Mrs. Wriggle
re-entered the cave.
Town stream, anb the Storp of the fIerr GOriO.
N a short time, Jerk had recovered his breath;
and his temper too.
Come," said Caper, "let us have a good
yii swim down the stream. I suppose you swim
.. well?" he added, turning to Constance.
S "Why, we don't exactly know if we can
swim at all," she replied: "we've only tried
walking as yet, and that seems difficult enough under
"Of course it is," said Jerk-" ever so much more
difficult than swimming. Look here !"
And Caper and Jerk started off at a rare pace round the
pool, darting backwards and forwards, and round and round,
50 UNDER THE WATER.
tumbling head over heels, and playing all kinds of antics.
Now you try," said
they, returning to the
Joe attempted to
imitate them, and suc-
ceeded tolerably well;
but Constance would
only swim quietly about,
well enough to
make an excursion;
so off set.the whole party,
in the highest possible
It was very pleasant,
gliding through the
cool clear water,
and seeing all
kinds of strange EA.L.
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 51
and interesting creatures-fish of many sorts, water-rats,
water-birds, and water-insects-but the nice part of it was,
that none of them seemed to mind being looked at or
To be sure, Caper and Jerk were so often up and
down the stream, that they had plenty of acquaintances and
friends; and none of these seemed to think it odd that the
children should be in their company.
"What lots and lots of people and things there are in
the water !" cried Constance-" more than on land !"
I should rather think so;" returned Jerk: the water's
so much pleasanter to live in than the air-that's the
It was too delightful, certainly: they swam so easily
along, and it was all so novel and beautiful. Sometimes
they had to twist in and out among the stems of the water-
lilies; and it interested the children, who had only been
accustomed to see their broad leaves and beautiful white
or yellow flowers on the surface, to find how far the
straight smooth stalks have often to grow up from the
How curious it seems," said Joe, "that the stalks
should always grow the right length, so as to bring the
leaves exactly to the top of the water !"
Not so curious," replied Caper, "when you know how
it's managed. Each flower, when it is born at the bottom
52 UNDER THE WATER.
of the river, is given some little water-insect, which rises
with the plant as it grows, and which, the moment the
leaves and bud come to the surface, runs down the stem
and tells the root to stop: in return for which service, the
insect may rest on the fine broad leaves, or hide amid the
petals of the flower, as much as ever it likes."
How very nice !" said Constance. I almost should
like to be one of those insects."
As she spoke, they approached a waterfall, and Caper
cautioned the children to keep exactly in the middle of the
river, as there were some rocks about.
Put your hands together in front of your head, and
shoot boldly out," he said; "it's great fun !"
They did so, and presently found themselves in a
foaming pool at the bottom of the fall, where the white
water seethed and boiled all round them.
They did not feel the least afraid, so it certainly was
"great fun." The moment, however, they arrived in the
pool, they were startled by the rush of a large trout,
which came hurrying out from close underneath the fall, to
see what was going on, but who, finding that there was
nothing to interest him, turned slowly round again and
disappeared like a shadow.
As they were about to continue their journey, Jerk, who
was on a little way ahead, came back in a great hurry.
"Here's a lark!" he said. "There's someone fishing
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 53
on the bank.: he's fishing with a mock minnow, covered all
over with hooks. Let's have a game with him."
"All right," said Caper. Keep close in underneath the
bank, or he may notice us."
They drifted silently down, till they saw, a little way in
front of them, a splash !
Something- sank into the pool, and travelled quickly
along down the stream.
This happened several times, and each time the mock
minnow was drawn in a different direction. At last, Jerk,
who was on the look-out, got the chance he was waiting for.
The minnow sank near a root which was projecting from
the bank, and in a moment he fastened two of the hooks
firmly round it. There was a quiver along the line when it
was suddenly tightened, as the fisherman tried to draw the
minnow along, and then it was allowed to slacken. Then
came a few gentle pulls; after which, the line began to
move up through the water, and was tightened in the
opposite direction, as the fisherman went a little way above,
hoping thus to dislodge his minnow.
But Jerk had fastened it too securely for that!
Then came a few harder tugs, as if the man on the
bank was getting a little impatient, and presently the line
The children were beginning to wonder what would
happen next, when they saw a hand and arm descending
54 UNDER THE WATER.
through the water, and feeling along the line. Lower and
lower it came, till the sleeve-in spite of being rolled up as
far as it would go-was soaking wet, which Jerk observed
with intense delight. Notwithstanding every effort, the
hand could not get to within several inches of the minnow,
and was at last drawn impatiently away; but not without
getting a good scratch from a trailing bramble, which Jerk
had arranged for the purpose. Then the line tightened
again; and this time a good deal of temper was shown by
the sharp strong tugs, and the children expected every
instant to see the line break. At last the fisherman gave up
the idea of trying to dislodge the minnow by force, and tried
another plan. He passed the butt of his rod down alongside
the line, and moved it about, feeling as well as he could for
the minnow: and this was very amusing to watch; for,
though he sometimes just touched it, he often gave little
pokes and prods at nothing.
Whilst this was going on, Caper noticed that the water,
just underneath where the fisherman was standing, was
becoming muddy; and he had hardly time to cry, Look
out! the bank is giving way!" when a large piece of earth
came squashing in!
There was a great stamping and struggling on the
Another instant, and the wretched fisherman fell, souse,
into the water !
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 55
Caper and Jerk, followed by the children, darted away
down the stream as fast as ever they could, laughing until
they could hardly swim.
Poor man 1" said Constance, as they got together and
went on at a slower pace. It was all very amusing, but
wasn't it rather a shame ? I hope he 'll get out."
"Oh dear yes," replied Caper; "he'll easily get out
there; and as for being' 'a shame,' we always bother a
fisherman when we get a chance, for trying to catch our
friends. You must remember, the trout are our friends."
"To be sure," said Constance; that's true enough;
so I suppose it's all fair."
Contenting herself with this, she listened to what Jerk,
who seemed to have taken a great fancy to Joe, was telling
him about fishermen.
I myself," he said, "have often made them so angry
that they've gone home And the best of it is, that they
have never known anything about me; and when I've
caught up their sham flies in brambles, and twisted them
round stones, and entangled them together, and hung bits
of weed on them, and all that, they've put it down to their
bad luck, and have been driven nearly wild !"
It's quite wonderful," remarked Caper, "how stupid
most fishermen are Just look up through the water: you
can see the bank pretty well, can't you ?"
"Yes," replied the children.
56 UNDER THE WATER.
"Very well; so can the trout, of course. Now, if a
shadow were to be thrown on that clear round space above
you, it would certainly catch your eye at once; and the
trout, remember, can see better than you. Yet those
stupid people on the bank seem to think that fish can't see
further out through the water than they themselves can see
into it; and so, after first letting themselves or their shadows
be plainly visible, they throw their flies on the water with
the greatest care These may fall as lightly as snowflakes,
but the amusement is harmless enough when every fish has
run in underneath the bank."
Yes," said Jerk; "the people who catch the most fish
are not always the best hands at throwing flies."
The first rule and the last rule for a fisherman ought
to be-' keep out of sight,' said Caper.
"Here's a nice quiet pool," he continued, "with a
beautiful sandbank in it for a sofa ; so let's have a rest. I
daresay you won't be sorry for one," he added, turning to
I'm not very tired," she said ; "but I think it would
be nice to stop and look round."
So they went down to the bottom.
I wonder if there's anything particular to see here,"
said Joe, as he lay on his face on the soft grey sand, with
his heels in the water.
SHe had hardly spoken the words when his eye was
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 57
caught by a small eel not far off, which was wriggling and
twisting about in a very absurd manner, and going through
all kinds of contortions.
He pointed it out to Jerk, and asked him what it was.
That's a grig," answered Jerk.
What's the matter with him ?"
"Nothing's the matter; but he's always going on like
that: it's his way of laughing."
Does he always laugh, then ?" asked Constance.
Yes," said Caper : haven't you ever heard the expres-
sion, 'As merry as a grig'?"
"To be sure I have; but what is he merry about ?"
"I think," said Jerk, "you had better let him tell you
"I'll go and ask him," said Joe, who set off crawling
towards him, followed by the others.
When they got close to the grig, he stopped still and
looked at them for a moment, and then tumbled and twisted
about as much as ever.
Oh dear !" he said, oh dear How funny it is, to be
"What's funny ?" asked Joe.
"What I'm wriggling at."
But why are you wriggling ?"
"Because I'm thinking of my history, and it's too, too
funny !" And he twisted himself nearly inside out.
58. UNDER THE WATER.
But Caper says you always wriggle," observed Con-
I know I do: I 'm always thinking of my history."
How I should like to hear it, if it's as funny as all
Would you ? Oh, I'll tell it to you, if I can manage
to keep quiet. I '11 try. hard-there !"
And the little creature sat up on his tail and looked
them in the face.
My name," he began, is Gr- "
We know," interrupted Joe,-" Grig."
"I m so glad, you know; for I don't think I could have
finished the word without wriggling. Now'for my story."
He put on as serious a look as he could, and began:
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG.
"The evidence of tradition enables me to affirm that--
But here he stopped, and quivered down to his tail, and
then burst out wriggling again, the very idea of beginning so
solemnly being quite too much for him.
The children looked on, much amused, and waited for
him to recover, which when he had done, he began speaking
very fast indeed, as if he didn't want to give himself any
time to wriggle.
"Hundreds and thousands of years ago, the moon
-which rose and set, and waxed and waned, just as
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 59
regularly- then as she 'does now--was shining in-her fullest
splendour, one lovely night in September, over the land and
over the sea.
The snow on the far-off mountain-tops gleamed- coldly
under her pure beams, as if not favouring her regards,
though whenever the sun's ardent rays touched it, it would
melt and soften and weep tears of joy.
"The calm clear lake lay still and placid all night,
content to serve as her mirror, and to receive the full beauty
of her smile.
"The mighty sea stretched itself out beneath, murmuring
soft words of love, and sighing passionately for her tender
glances; and when the white-winged ships on its heaving
breast entered upon the track of rippling light which
stretched away to the horizon, they seemed cruel to
themselves if they sailed across it into the darkness
beyond, instead of following that brilliant path to the
peaceful and beautiful shores to which it was impossible
to doubt that it must surely lead.
On that glorious night, the harvest moon looked down
on many people and many lands. On lovers, sitting hand-
in-hand in quiet places-as lovers sit now; on shepherds,
watching their flocks on the mountain-side, and listening to
the tinkling sheep-bells; on hill and valley, on cultivated
plain, and on wild moorland; here casting deep shadows,
there pencilling with silvery light.
60 UNDER THE WATER.
"And as she looked she saw, gliding swiftly and steadily
over the sleeping land below, a brilliant star.
"What was it ? ,
SIt was- .-
on her way to a distant .
country; and the dazzlin,' -----
light streamed ... :, I '
from the diamond '".it' .
/ -- '- .
,.'- ,r . .
suddenly extinguished. Alas! the wand had slipped and
---=: ; : ...-- / -.- .-:.-4
_-. -,< ..... -h ... ,, .. h-_-r, -b n wa
- -- ./:- ----- '-- ------- sh- -o n ar s ... _a -- -_ =5 .
---'-_ y ._.g is ed A s "__ -an -a -l e 7_'... --'- -
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 61
fallen from the fairy's fingers, and with it had fallen all the
power and greatness, that were hers for as long only as she
retained possession of the radiant star.
Could she recover it ?
"Yes; for a splash of water, lit up by the welcome
moonlight, showed where it had fallen; and the fairy,
darting down to the side of the river which flowed from the
lake, saw her lost treasure resting securely on a shelf of
rock, only a short way below the surface.
A few feet on either side, and it would have fallen into
deep water, and been hidden in the mud below-and hidden
for ever !-for the fairy having lost her power with her
wand, would have been unable to recover either.
"As it was, however, she quickly held it in her hand
again, and, true to her name, thus addressed the unconscious
Inanimate stone! would that I could do for thee
aught to show my gratitude; but, since that is impossible
even to the great power thou hast restored to me, I will at
least make in thine honour, this decree: The first living
creature which, at any time in years to come, shall, whilst
resting on thy surface, give utterance to a wish, shall have
that wish immediately granted. I have said it !'
"The fairy waved her wand gracefully over the water,
and then sped swiftly on her way through the soft and
62 UNDER THE WATER.
"Years passed on, and rolled out into centuries: creatures
of all kinds crossed the ledge of rock, or rested on its surface ;
but none, whilst so doing, gave utterance to any wish, and
the fairy's word remained unproved;
"The very rock itself, which has now entirely dis-
appeared, began to crumble away, when- "
Here the grig, who had been telling the story in rather a
sing-song manner, as if repeating a lesson, began to quiver
again, and to show more signs of wriggling.
"When-what do you think ? An ancestor of mine-a
worm--[wriggle]-a mere worm-[wriggle, wriggle]-which
had fallen into the stream, was carried on to the very rock
in question; and, just before the current swept him off
again, happened to say- [wriggle]-happened, mind !-
[wriggle]-' This won't do at all: I wish I was an eel !'
"In that same moment he actually became an eel-a grig !
And here am I-just fancy !-no worm, mind you; but a grig"
The lively little fellow, as he said this, gave up trying to
keep quiet, and went into perfect convulsions of wriggling.
"Only to think," he continued-" from a mere worm
to a real eel !" (Here he tied himself into a knot.) "An
eel, you know-a kind of fish !" (He untied himself, and
got into a more intricate knot than before.) From a worm
to a fish and that by the merest chance-a chance that
mightn't-that wouldn't and couldn't-ever happen again-
ever! ever!! ever!!!"
THE STORY OF THE MERRY GRIG. 63
Here he wriggled so tremendously, and kicked up so
much sand, that the children could hardly see him. Then
he rested for a moment, but the fit took him again worse
It's no use," he cried; "I haven't room enough here
to wriggle properly: I must go down to the big pool below
the mill. I always have to, after telling my history; and
sometimes I'm obliged to stay there for a week at a time.
Good-bye Oh dear, oh dear Good-bye !"
And as he wriggled away, the children could hear him
repeating to himself:
From the merest worm to a sort of fish !"
And so he disappeared out of their sight.
After recovering from the fit of laughter into which she
had been thrown by the absurd way in which the grig had
ended his story, Constance said;
"How odd it seems that such a funny little person
should be able to tell such a story, and to use such fine
"Why, he knows it all by heart," said Caper. "He
could never have made it up himself."
I should think not, indeed," said Jerk, nor any of his
Then who made it up ?" asked Joe. "And is it a true
story, or a story story ?"
Oh, I believe the facts are true enough," replied Caper;
64 UNDER THE WATER.
"at any rate, they are believed down in the water; but they
would never have been told in the words you have just
listened to, if it hadn't happened that one of the grigs long
ago, by performing a trifling service for an aged leech,
secured his gratitude."
"And," put in Jerk, the leech became his firm friend,
and stuck to him for the rest of his life."
"And," continued Caper, "in the solitude and retire-
ment of his declining years, composed the story."
Which," added Jerk, in conclusion, every grig has to
learn by heart the moment he is old enough. So now you
know all about it."
"Thank you," said Constance; "and it's all very
interesting. I do hope we shall have some more stories.
Shall we go on now? I'm quite rested. Are you, Joe ?"
Quite," replied Joe, who was rolling about on the sand,
and occasionally standing on his head, and feeling almost as
lively as the grig himself.
"As we have to swim back against the stream," suggested
Caper, perhaps we had better be going towards home;
and we can stop and see things on the way, if we like."
"That will be capital !" said Constance. "Come along."
And away they all started.
I : I.j .-. X L, '
UTp stream, anb the Storp of the sorrowful Loacb.
Si N reaching the waterfall, down which they had
Sso easily shot, the children found that getting
S up again was a different matter.
i,-- 4 ,. Caper and Jerk, however, were very kind
: -^;' in helping them, and in showing them where
c to place their feet; the former taking Con-
stance under his particular care, and Jerk following with
Joe. Just as they reached the top, and after Constance
and her companion had already arrived in the open
water above, Joe's foot was washed from its holding, and
he slipped back. Jerk, who was close behind, managed to
save him from falling altogether down; but his knee was
considerably bruised and scraped against a projecting rock,
66 UNDER THE WATER.
and he was in a good deal of pain when he at last succeeded
in scaling the fall.
Of course, it wouldn't do to cry; so little Joe set his
teeth and gulped, and was getting on famously, when
Constance, finding out what had happened, came and put
her arms round his neck.
Then it was hard to keep back the tears; but he was
determined not to cry before Caper and Jerk, and he didn't.
He could not, however, trust himself to speak to his sister;
but he took one of her soft little hands and squeezed it very
hard, and they quite understood each other.
The whole party rested till he had recovered.
Just as they were about to start again, Joe, who was
lying in his favourite position (on his face, with his heels
kicking in the water), saw a little head poked out from
underneath a stone near at hand, and then drawn quickly
What's that, I wonder ?" said he to Jerk, who was
looking in the same direction.
It's a loach," replied Jerk,-" a small fish, you know."
It seems very much afraid of being seen."
Loaches hate to be seen," said Caper.
All loaches ?" asked Constance.
Do you know why ?"
Because they're ashamed of themselves."
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 67
"What did they do ?" asked Joe.
"It's a very long story," replied Caper. "You ought
to hear it from the loach himself."
"Will he tell it, do you think?" asked Constance,
I'm rather afraid he won't," answered Caper. He
hates to be talked to, and I don't wonder at it."
"At any rate, there would be no harm in asking him,"
So the children went nearer, and lay down flat, and
looked under the stone.
They could just see the loach, and Constance begged
that he would come out and speak to them.
The moment she did so, he put out his head.
"What do you want?" he asked, in such a sorrowful voice
that the children almost repented of having disturbed him.
"We should like," answered Joe, "to hear your story,
and why you live under stones, and by yourself."
Though if you would rather not tell us, and would like
us to go away, we will," interposed Constance.
Thank you for saying so," answered the loach, looking
more miserable than ever; but this is the anniversary of
the mutation; otherwise, you might have talked for a week
without getting an answer from me."
The children looked puzzled, and he continued:
"On each anniversary of the mutation (and you will
68 UNDER THE WATER.
understand what that means by-and-by), I am obliged to
tell my history to whoever may wish to hear it; but it's a
long story, and a fairy story. Perhaps you don't like that
sort ?" he added, hopefully.
We like a fairy tale better than anything else, especially
if it's one of the old sort, you know," said Constance.
"With wicked people and good people, and magicians
and fairy godmothers, and castles and plots, and everything
going wrong till everything goes suddenly right--I hope it's
one of that sort !" exclaimed Joe, excitedly.
I have heard," said the loach, that you cannot make
beer without malt and hops: is that so ?"
I believe you can't," said Constance, who was very
much surprised, and thought that perhaps the loach hadn't
heard what Joe said.
"And I know," continued the fish-" I have heard it so
often that I consider I know it-that you can't make bread
"I know that," said Joe.
"Very well then; as certain ingredients go to the
brewing of beer, and certain others to the making of bread,
so a fairy tale must have a lot of ingredients like those you
have mentioned, though you may mix them up in any
proportions you choose : do you understand ?"
Quite," answered both the children.
"And if you think," continued the loach, who seemed to
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 69
feel rather strongly on the subject, "that you are going to
make a real fairy tale without using the same kind of
ingredients that people used in old days-why you're very
much mistaken, that's all."
But we don't think so," said Constance, very decidedly.
" We like the old old sort much the best."
I'm very glad to hear it," replied the loach, in dismal
tones. If one has to tell the story of his cruel fate, it's
just as well to tell it to people who will be interested."
Seeing that he was about to commence, the children
made themselves as comfortable as possible, lying at full
length along the bottom, with their elbows on the sand
and their chins in their hands; and in this position they
listened to (
"' -- v '" -~- '. A-
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH.
In days of yore there lived amongst the mountains of
the Pyrenees, a certain Baron and his wife.
70 UNDER THE WATER.
They were so avaricious, that they considered money
to be the only thing worth living for, and had so hardened
their consciences in its pursuit, that they would adopt any
means, however wicked, in order to obtain it.
"The worst of it was, that they were such sly, such
smooth-tongued, such artful hypocrites, that they managed
to throw people off their guard, and had come to be
considered pretty nearly as good as their neighbours,
although it must be said that few of these ever entered
their doors. So things went on for a long time, but they
were found out at last, as wicked people always are in
This couple had an only son, who, besides sharing the
vice of avarice with his parents, was filled with an incredible
self-conceit, which was all the more intolerable from the fact
that he had nothing to be conceited about.
He considered his voice soft and charming: it was in
reality harsh and discordant.
He talked of his well-proportioned figure and dignified
carriage: his appearance was most insignificant and un-
"He was fond of admiring his legs: they were like
crooked sticks; and he was continually boasting of his
strength, though he was short of breath and deficient in
His nose was red, his mouth was large, his neck was
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 71
scraggy, his hair was coarse and of a rusty colour, his eyes
were small, and he squinted fearfully; and yet this puny
and miserable-looking creature would stand for hours before
his glass, feeling quite convinced that, should he kneel at
her feet, no lady in the land could escape falling in love
"Such were the Baron and Baroness Griffe and their
hopeful son Fripon.
In a basin, high up amongst the mountains, near where
the Pic du Midi towers above its fellows, lies a beautiful
lake, called (on account of its colour) the Lac Bleu. So
lovely are its waters, so wild and grand are the mountains
and forests by which it is surrounded, that even at the
present time people are often tempted to make a long and
toilsome excursion for the sake of feasting their eyes upon
"It was near here that the Baron Griffe had a fine
house, and a property which, though not of very great size,
would have been more than sufficient to maintain him
and his in perfect comfort, if only they could have been
satisfied with what they possessed. But some people never
are satisfied; and the Baron was one of these, and the
Baroness was another, and Fripon was a third.
Many were the schemes they devised for procuring
additional wealth, and one in particular constantly occupied
72 UNDER THE WATER.
In a stately Castle, not far off, dwelt a Princess, whose
beauty and riches were the talk of the whole country, and
whose amiable qualities had procured for her universal
esteem and affection.
"For these qualities the Baron and his wife cared
nothing at all; but they cared very much to get her money,
and hoped to do so by arranging a marriage between herself
and their son Fripon.
Now there were two obstacles that stood in the way of
their success in this matter, the first being the difficulty of
obtaining speech with the Princess; for the Castle was
shut in on every side by high walls and a deep moat, and
the aged King, her father, who had retired from the cares
of government to spend his remaining years in peace and
seclusion, was averse to giving admission to anyone from
the outside world. That was the first obstacle; but the
other was still more difficult to overcome.
"The Princess was already in love! She was in love
with an exiled Prince, who, banished from his own country
by the influence of a wicked stepmother, dwelt in a small
cottage on the opposite side of the lake to that on which
stood the Baron's house and the King's Castle.
"He had chosen the spot on account of its excessive
beauty; a lovely view being, as he said, about the only
luxury he was now able to afford.
"No doubt the air of mystery that surrounded him
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 73
was all in his favour; but even without that, he was as
handsome and gallant a lover as lady fair need ever wish to
see at her feet.
"He was, in every respect, exactly the opposite of
"This was not true of his external appearance only,
but also of his mind and character.
"Courteous, high-minded, gentle and bold, Prince
Beaufoi was lover worthy even of the Princess Fidele.
"Their acquaintance had commenced in this manner:
One evening, Prince Beaufoi was riding home, after a
long excursion among the mountains, when, just as he was
passing the gate of the Castle, his weary steed stumbled
and fell, rolling heavily on the rider, who received some
severe wounds on his head, and was rendered completely
The warders at the gate extricated the Prince from his
perilous position, carried him into the courtyard, and sent
to inform the King of what had happened.
"The King fretted at the news, for he was always
displeased when things were thrown out of their usual
course; but, the laws of hospitality being imperative, he
ordered a chamber to be prepared for the sufferer, and
every care to be taken of him.
"In those good old times, the services of physicians
being less readily obtained than at present, it was the
74 UNDER THE WATER.
custom for all ladies-even those of the highest rank-to
acquire some knowledge of medicine; and the Princess
Fiddle was particularly famed for her skill in the healing
She repaired at once to the chamber, where Prince
Beaufoi still lay unconscious, and, assisted by her favourite
waiting-woman, dressed his wounds and gave him a cooling
For days he hovered between life and death, consumed
by fever, and tossing in wild delirium. But the Princess
never despaired; and at last the fever was subdued, and
the battle was won.
As the Prince's recovery advanced, she went less and
less frequently to his apartment, and when he became
convalescent her visits ceased altogether.
The King, who was aware of the Prince's poverty,
impatiently awaited the moment when he should be suf-
ficiently recovered to take his departure; and kept watchful
guard over his daughter, for fear a mutual affection might
spring up between them. But the mischief he feared had
been already done.
"The Prince's heart was filled with gratitude and love
towards the gentle and beautiful lady to whom he owed so
much; and she, on her part, was so completely won by the
patience and sweetness of temper he had shown through all
his sufferings, that, in spite of the efforts she at first made
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 75
to resist a passion which she felt might be the cause of
unhappiness to both, she at last yielded hopelessly to its
"' But let him not discover,' said she to her faithful
old nurse, who was now in attendance on the Prince, and
whom she took into her confidence, 'how much I love
him. Rather let him imagine that I am too proud and
cold to feel more interest in him than I should in any other
sufferer. My father's commands are urgent, and our union
is impossible, even should he love me in return.'
She lingered tenderly over the last few words, as she
felt in her heart that her affection was indeed returned.
Why do you not, my sweet lady, obtain the assistance
of your fairy godmother in this matter ?' suggested the old
It would ill become me to do so,' rejoined the Princess,
'before Prince Beaufoi had declared his love; and I may
not give him an opportunity of speaking to me, even were
he desirous of taking it.'
So she steeled herself, and kept her chamber, and in
due time the Prince left the Castle.
He left it with a heavy heart, and with small hopes
that his deep affection was returned; for the lady had been
successful in disguising her passion, and he was too modest
to hope without encouragement.
"Now, it chanced that Mercy-the fairy godmother
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alluded to by the old nurse-had a sister called Justice, under
whose particular care Prince Beaufoi was placed; and these
two had great power and influence throughout the land.
"Their dispositions were very different, and they
frequently held opposite opinions as to the management
of the affairs under their control; and when either sister
acted alone, there was, perhaps, on the one side pitiless
severity, and on the other too great indulgence; but,
generally speaking, they worked together, and when this
was the case, their administration was perfect.
"The two fairies often took counsel with regard to the
welfare of their respective charges, and were both of opinion
that a union between them might be desirable.
"' But not yet,' said Justice. Prince Beaufoi must first
make a name in the world, and show himself worthy of your
god-daughter. Besides, he is poor, and she, on the contrary,
has riches; so the bargain would be unfair.'
But,' argued Mercy, if she has enough for both, and
happens to love him, why keep them asunder?'
"' He is still untried,' returned Justice.
Mercy thought for a moment, and then said:
"' If you will consent to their being brought together, in
order that we may see whether they can love each other as
fondly as I hope they may, I will, in return, agree to their
love and his honour being tried to the utmost before the
alliance is permitted to take place.'
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 77
"To this Justice consented; and it was Mercy herself
who caused the Prince's horse to fall at the Castle gate.
When Prince Beaufoi returned to his lonely cottage,
he tried to shake off his love, and, in arduous studies and
hard exercise, to forget the goodness of his lady's heart and
the beauty of her smile-but in vain.
His affection for her only increased, study became
impossible, sleep fled from him, and his sole delight was to
spend his days in wild and dangerous excursions amongst
the snow-capped mountains, and his nights in wandering
around the Castle which contained his treasure.
"At last, he bethought him of his lute, and, taking
courage, he determined that the Princess Fiddle should, at
all events, be brought to know with what devotion he
The night after he had formed this resolve, the Princess
was about to retire to rest, when the sound of a lute was
borne in through her open window.
"Fid&le paused, as she was crossing the chamber,
wondering whence the sound might proceed.
"She knew that the Castle wall was high, and the moat
wide and deep, and that her apartment looked out into the
"Filled, therefore, with curiosity, she approached the
window, and concealed herself behind the silken hangings.
"Presently, a rich, manly voice, which she at once
78 UNDER THE WATER.
recognized as belonging to Prince Beaufoi, sang the
following words :
'The world is now at rest,
The bird is on her nest,
Ah me! Ah me!
My lonely watch I keep,
And sigh, whilst others sleep,
For thee, for thee!'"
Here the loach hesitated for a moment, and then said:
"There are about twenty verses more: shall I repeat
No, thank you ?" said Joe, quickly.
"I thought you'd very likely not care to hear them;
they're the same sort of stuff, you know, that lovers always
used to sing."
And the loach resumed his story:
"As the Prince concluded his serenade, the Princess
could hardly restrain herself from appearing at the window,
and making known to him that his love for her was returned;
but she determined to delay doing so for a time, feeling sure
that he would come back another night, if his love was
worth having, and also wishing to show modest reserve, and
not to appear too easily won.
She listened for a while, therefore, and, hearing nothing
further, turned from the window and made towards her
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 79
"What was her astonishment to see her godmother-the
fairy Mercy-standing before her!
"The small, graceful figure, so perfect in its symmetry;
the long white robe, enriched with bands of gold; the
flowing hair, and the tiny wand, at either end of which
burned a pale-green light, like that in a glowworm's tail-
all showed the Princess who her visitor was; and she was
about to speak, when, motioning her back, the fairy thus
I am well pleased with thy behaviour, my child, which
hath been dutiful and maidenly; and I have such confidence
in the inspirations of thy heart, that, in the events that are
to follow, I shall leave you to be guided by them alone,
saying to thee only, in encouragement, these few words:
Have faith in thy lover, through evil and through good
report; have hope in the future; have confidence in me.'
So saying, and before the Princess had time to thank
her, the fairy vanished, as suddenly as she had appeared.
"Justice gave no promises and held out no hopes to
Prince Beaufoi, telling Mercy that, till her services were
absolutely required, she should leave him to fight his own
battles by himself.
"At the same hour of the night as that in which Beaufoi,
from the branches of an oak, serenaded the Princess Fiddle,
a very different scene was being enacted not far away.
In the depths of the lonely forest, which swept down to
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the shores of the lake, was a certain dell, through which no
peasant in the country could be induced to pass after
nightfall; for it was known to be the haunt of a wicked
sorcerer, who there abode in the recesses of a dismal cavern,
the mouth of which, half-hidden by weeds and ferns,
seemed-in consequence of the bones hung round it, like
teeth-to snarl at the passing traveller, as if hungering for
Dismal nevertheless as the place might be, the Baron
and his wife, accompanied by Fripon, repaired to the dell
on the night in question, and paused, with trembling limbs,
at the entrance to the cavern.
"A wall of rock just inside it prevented their further
"The soft beams of the moon could hardly penetrate
to where they stood; but, on close inspection, Fripon dis-
covered a tablet let into the rock, on which they managed
to decipher this inscription :
'Whoever would an entrance make,
The whitened bones must seize and shake.' "
It was a ghastly thing to do; and the Baron's cheek
turned pale as he proceeded to carry out the directions.
He was stimulated, however, by his thirst for gold, which,
in his case, was always enough to overcome any other impulse.
"He stretched out his hands and shrinkingly touched two
large bones that hung near him.
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 81
With a stifled shriek, he immediately relaxed his hold,
and fell back a few paces, wiping from his brow the cold
"'What is it? What is it?' cried his companions, in
The shock !' gasped the Baron-' the chill, unearthly
shock, which seemed to strike up through my arms !'
"'Is that all?' exclaimed the Baroness, scornfully.
'Faint-hearted that thou art! I will myself comply with
"With a sudden motion, she seized the bones and
rattled them together.
Then, with a noise which sounded like a hollow groan,
the wall of rock sank slowly down, discovering the interior
of the cavern and its occupant.
On a high chair, formed of bones, the terrible sorcerer
He was writing on a scroll, from which he did not at
first raise his eyes.
Immediately round about him shone a brilliant light,
which proceeded they were unable to say whence, and
seemed not to diffuse itself; so that the sides and back of
the cavern were in deep shadow.
In its gloomy recesses, fearful forms and faces might
well have been lurking; indeed, the visitors to this weird
spot imagined, at intervals during their stay, that they could
82 UNDER THE WATER.
catch the gleam of white teeth, or the flash of fiery eyes,
or hear a mocking laugh, or a low groan; but of these
sounds and appearances they were unable to speak with
"After a few moments of silent observation, during which
they had time to realise the awful loneliness of the sorcerer,
and the dreariness of his abode, they observed that his eyes
were fixed upon themselves.
Then indeed their hearts sank within them, and they
wished that they had never come.
Involuntarily they looked behind them, and were just
in time to see the wall of rock rise slowly up, and shut them
off from the outer air; and again they heard the hollow
"'Approach!' said a deep solemn voice, which hardly
seemed to proceed from the lips of the sorcerer, and quickly
say your errand.'
Thus admonished, they took courage, and advanced
together to the centre of the cavern.
"As they did so, the sorcerer traced in the air a cabalistic
sign, and straightway a bench of stone rose slowly up through
He motioned them to be seated.
They now seemed to be able to look at him with less
terror, though his was indeed a fearful face to behold.
"His hair and beard were white as snow, and the
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 83
latter streamed down to within a short distance of the
His eyes were tawny, and blazed with such a
fierce light, that the visitors could hardly bear to meet
On his left hand was a large and brilliant stone, which
flashed whenever he moved, and which seemed to them to
be set in his very flesh.
He wore a long scarlet robe, thickly covered with figures
of bats, and serpents, and owls, and on it were traced many
sentences in characters unknown to them.
A long pointed black cap, around which a living snake
was firmly coiled, completed his attire.
'Why disturb ye thus my solitude?' demanded the
voice, after they had taken their seats.
They were looking at the sorcerer's face as this question
was asked, but could see no muscle of it move.
"'We would obtain thine assistance,' answered the
Baron, 'in carrying out the wish which is nearest to our
'And in what manner,' demanded the voice, 'dost thou
propose that I should assist in furthering thy son's marriage
with the Princess Fiddle ?'
"' We would fain beg thy counsel in the matter,' faltered
the Baron, who was awestruck by the sorcerer's knowledge
of his wishes.
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The voice was silent for a moment, and then slowly
"' If it lies within my power to satisfy your demands,
I will grant to ye three wishes; and, at your death, ye
shall all become mine, and serve my interests. Does this
content ye ?'
"' It does,' replied the Baron, 'provided only thou canst
grant us the first wish.'
That we may all three live for one hundred years from
"' It is granted Name the second.'
Fripon's voice now grated harshly out:
"'As I am to be bound by my father's promise, I am
well entitled to name the second wish, which is, that I may
have means of access to the Princess Fiddle whenever I
desire to see her.'
Would it not be better,' interposed the Baroness, 'to
ask that she may be induced to love thee ?'
Nay,' answered Fripon, let her only see me, and her
love, I flatter myself, is secured.'
Is that, then, the second wish ?' demanded the voice.
"' It is,' answered Fripon.
"' It is granted !'
"At this moment, the Baron and the others, who had
thought they could distinguish a low peal of laughter at the
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 85
further end of the cavern when the first wish was granted,
were now nearly certain that it was repeated.
The third request ?' said the voice.
"The party consulted together, and, after a few moments,
the Baron made answer:
"That, without seeking thee here, we may have the
means of communicating with thee, and of obtaining thine
advice, at whatsoever moment we may stand in need thereof.
This is the third wish.'
And it is granted !' said the voice once more.
"This time there could be no doubt about it-an un-
earthly mocking laugh echoed round the cavern, and died
away in the distance.
Here,' continued the voice, as the sorcerer turned to
Fripon, is that which shall convey thee, in spite of every
obstacle, to the apartment of the Princess Fiddle, whenever
thou may'st require an interview with her. Open it not
before thou hast occasion to use it.'
He placed a silken bag in Fripon's hand.
"'And this,' said the voice, as the sorcerer gave the
Baron a ring, in which was set a dusky yellow stone,' will
ensure thee what thou hast demanded. At such times as
thou may'st require my assistance and advice, rub the
stone, and immediately my messenger will stand before
thee, in readiness to obey thy commands. Try now its
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The Baron rubbed the stone, and instantly, from the
ground beside him, rose an imp with long pointed ears
and rolling eyes, out of the corners of which, though they
were directed towards the Baron, he every instant glanced
A fearfully at the sorcerer, as though ready
to obey his slightest sign.
/. "After a few seconds the latter waved his
S hand, and the imp immediately disappeared.
Leave now my presence,' said the
Voice, in a deeper tone. We meet again
after one hundred years.'
i" As. the sorcerer pointed to the entrance
of the cavern, the wall of rock again sank
down, and the three trembling visitors
/ stood once more in the open air.
.. ," The rock now rose for the last time,
-' i._-4 and as it did so, peals of wild laughter were.
plainly heard rebellowing round and round."
Here the loach paused, and said in a tone of
mournful resignation: I see a small red worm
---- .- drifting this way, and if you will allow me,
I think I had better swallow it, as I might find it refreshing."
He did so.
"It's the kind that agrees with me,best," he remarked
with a sort of sob; and then returned to his story.
ZIe Ztorp of thTe orrowfuI %oacb.
the night after he had first serenaded his
.- ,.f.. lady-love, Prince Beaufoi again climbed into
'the oak, and sang in such a tender strain that
the Princess nearly broke down in her resolu-
L tion of trying him still further.
'". Not till the third night,' she kept on
repeating to herself-' not till the third night; and then,
if he comes, I must speak, and tell him how dearly I love
On the third night, therefore, she once more waited
behind her curtain. The- Prince was even earlier than
usual, and climbed eagerly into the oak.
88 UNDER THE WATER.
"As he reached the bough on which he had been accus-
tomed to sit, he perceived to his surprise that it was already
"There sat a chubby little boy, with curly flaxen hair
and large blue eyes.
He was neatly dressed in a pair of wings, and had a
little bow tucked away under his
-- ,, arm; and at the time the
Prince first saw him, was
busy sharpening the
Points of some arrows
..'. -- which he held in his
,'--'- hand, on a polished
S -,red cornelian, made
into the shape of a heart.
S-' ,' "'Good-evening,' said he
to the Prince. 'Come along
up; there's plenty of room for two.'
'Good-evening,' replied the Prince, rather taken aback.
"'Perhaps I'd better introduce myself,' said the chubby
boy. My name's Cupid.'
"'I guessed that direCtly,' said the Prince, and I'm
very glad to see you; so don't think me rude if I ask you
whether you're not wasting your. time here ? I think you've
done your worst already, haven't you ?'
Cupid was highly delighted.
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 89
"'We'll see about that directly,' answered he. 'The
fact is, I was asked to come here by the fairy Mercy,
who thought that the window and tree were too far
apart for much conversation without shouting, and she
knows how I hate love to be shouted. In fact, I don't allow
it,' he added, decidedly, at the same time making the point
of one of his arrows very sharp indeed.
"' I say,' he continued with a wink, as he nodded
towards the window, 'isn't she beautiful ? Eh-and good ?'
Here he gave Beaufoi a poke in the ribs with that
very sharp arrow; and the Prince could feel it go right into
his heart, though it didn't hurt him at all.
But, dear me !' Cupid went on, 'you're only beginning
to know how beautiful and how good she really is! Why,
all your fancy has painted her is a wretched daub compared
with the original! Come, come,' he concluded; 'don't you
think it's about time to strike up a tune? You're not
going to be a laggard in love, with me here, I can tell you!'
"The Prince laughed gaily, but had no retort at hand.
The fact is, he was far too madly in love for joking. People
ought never to try to joke when they are as bad as he was
that night-they can't do it at all, and are sure to get the
worst of any chaff.
Of course Cupid knew this very well, and enjoyed
having it all his own way.
I'm afraid,' said the Prince after a pause, 'that my
O9 UNDER THE WATER.
singing is all in vain; for I have been here two nights
already without so much as seeing the Princess Fidele.
Ah if she only loved me a tenth part as well as I love her,
she could never have been deaf to me for so long.'
"'You know nothing about it,' retorted Cupid. 'It
doesn't at all follow, because a lady may not show her love
at first, that she does not therefore feel it just as much as
you impetuous men. I 'm not sure,' he continued, thought-
fully, 'that their way isn't the best, because it's so aggra-
"'Look at the state you're in now, for instance;' and
Cupid winked again, and gave the Prince another sly poke
in the ribs: 'nothing could be better for my purpose.
At the same time, I must have your way too, or matters
would never get on, Now sing away fair sir, and I '11 give
you a hint or two as you go on.'
"The Prince had not to sing long !
At the end of the first verse, the Princess Fidele, in all
her beauty, her bright eyes beaming with love, appeared at
Sing to me no longer !' she cried; or, if you do, sing
not to entreat, but rather to command; for I am melted by
your words, and can conceal my love no longer.'
"'Dear me!' whispered Cupid to the Prince, 'we're
getting on pretty well now, I think I call that very nicely
put. Have you nothing to say in return ?'
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 91
"The Prince attempted to answer, but was so overcome
with joy that his words were scarcely audible.
Cupid now knew that it was time for him to act; so,
dropping his tone of light banter, he told the Prince to
whisper a message in his ear.
On his doing so, Cupid flew lightly across to the case-
ment, explained his business to the Princess, and gave her
the message, adding all sorts of assurances on his own
account as to the Prince's attachment, fidelity, and worth.
"And the little rogue flew backwards and forwards, from
tree to window and from window to tree, till his victims
were so filled with love, that they longed to spring simul-
taneously into the air and be clasped in each other's arms,
if only for one second.
But, as Cupid sagely represented, they would the next
moment have been down in the Castle moat, and covered all
over with weeds and mud; and that would have been such
a very foolish ending.
It is a difficult matter to tire Cupid when he is about
the work he loves so much, and knows so well how to
manage; but even he became a little weary at last, as he
put his pouting lips to Fiddle's pretty pink ear, or laid his
own against her rosy lips, for about the thousandth time.
"What would Beaufoi not have given to have been in
his place ? Only he wouldn't have applied his ear where
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"At last, the lovers were persuaded to retire, but only
after they had extracted from Cupid a promise that he
would be on duty again the very next night.
"The sun had hardly risen on the morning after his
interview with the sorcerer, when the Baron rubbed his ring
and summoned the imp, who from that moment had a very
bad time of it, and was forced to come up at all sorts of
times and through all kinds of obstacles.
"This imp was of a dark-brown colour, and about the
size of a child of six. He wore round his waist a thick
skirt of a dusky yellow hue-like the stone in the Baron's
ring-which came down to his knees, and was his only
His hair, which was cropped close to his head, made
his long pointed ears the more conspicuous.
"Whenever he spoke, he grinned horribly, showing two
rows of large white teeth; and he frequently let his tongue
loll out of the corner of his mouth.
It was always impossible to say whether he was laugh-
ing or not; for, though his lips might grin, there was never
any amusement to be seen in his restless goggle eyes.
"The Baron noticed that whenever he rubbed his ring,
the imp invariably made his appearance in the same relative
position with regard to himself; that is to say, about two
feet away from him to his left front.
Wishing to ascertain if this was an invariable rule, the
THE STORY OF THE SORROWFUL LOACH. 93
Baron stood on the kitchen boiler: the imp came up
through that, without even seeming surprised. He then
placed himself with his left elbow against a thick wall, and
rubbed again. The next instant the imp tumbled out
through the side of it, having evidently risen in the midst of
the heavy blocks of stone, grinning so tremendously that the
Baron felt it would be useless to try any more experiments.
By means of this imp, the Baron very soon ascertained
how matters went on at the Castle, and heard with much
displeasure of Beaufoi's visits to the oak.
"Of course it would have been useless for Fripon to
have tried that plan, even if he could have managed the
climbing, as the Princess Fiddle would simply have shut her
window, and drawn the silken curtain across it, leaving Fripon
to sing as much as he liked, or to whistle if he couldn't sing.
He had the sorcerer's bag, however, in his possession,
and longed to examine and prove its contents.
But the Baron and Baroness persuaded him to let
them send the imp to obtain his master's advice as to what
their first step ought to be.
"At the time Fripon was induced to agree to this they
were seated at table; and when the Baron rubbed his ring,
the imp came bobbing up through the floor, just in front of
a domestic who happened to be handing round a platter of
meat, and who was so much startled by the apparition that
he dropped the platter and rushed wildly from the room.